Random J Playlist: Written by Michico | The woman behind Crystal Kay, Namie Amuro and J-R&B

Random J Pop: Written by Michico | Random J Pop

Whilst the crossover of credible R&B to Japan is attributed to certain artists, Crystal Kay, Hikaru Utada, some would even say Namie Amuro; it's actually writers and producers who were helping the cross over happen and making it a reputable sound in Japan that artists could have careers on the backs of. 

One songwriter who was vital in making J-R&B happen for artists was Michico.

Michico started out as a solo J-R&B artist and even released an album back in 2002. But with it selling all of 12 copies and being triple baking foil, her career as an artist was swiftly over. Yet, whilst her debut as an artist didn't register with the music buying public, it clearly caught the attention of A&R's at labels with acts who were trying to do the R&B thing, because Michico would become be the go-to for artists wanting to crossover. Despite the dire sales, Michico's album was actually pretty decent. (I may review it one day). The whole thing had a sound like it was produced and written by US producers and writers, which gave Michico a sense of credibility. She had her finger on the pulse of the sound. She didn't have to mimic R&B or try to 'get it', because she knew the genre.

Michico has written for a whole bunch of artists in J-Pop, but 3 artists that she's written for most frequently are EXILE, Namie Amuro, and Crystal Kay. And believe me. You know a bunch of the songs that she's written.

Michico started writing for Namie at the point in her career when she was trying to make the pivot to R&B happen, first working with her on Style, penning two of the albums' singles "Put 'Em Up" and "So Crazy". Michico formed a strong working relationship with Namie, which lasted for her next 4 albums; Queen of Hip-Pop, Play, Past < Future, Uncontrolled and writing all 3 songs on her 60s 70s 80s release, in addition to contributing to her Suite Chic project.

In the case of Crystal Kay, Michico has written for Crystal Kay for the bulk of her career; from her second studio album 637: Always & Forever right up until her ninth, Vivid. "Girl's Night", "Girl U Love", "Forever" - all written by her.

Michico is also a vocal producer and arranger. And when you listen a bunch of the songs that she's written back-to-back, you can hear it. I'm willing to bet that Namie starting to actually sound good on songs, sing in key and give layered vocals is down to Michico, because the only song on Style where Namie is singing the chorus in key is "Put 'Em Up", and from Queen of Hip-Pop onward, Namie stayed on key. Some of Michico's songs feature vocal arrangements which are so amazingly intricate, prominent and add so much to a song, that they're standout aspects of them. Just listen to the choruses of Crystal Kay's "I Wanna Be" or Namie Amuro's "Copy That" and "First Timer". Yep. She wrote those too. And for a group that isn't known for giving the best vocals, she manages to have EXILE get in formation in that studio and sounding real good.

With Namie Amuro retired and LDH putting the brakes on Crystal Kay doing J-R&B whenever the fuck, I bet Michico's bank balance ain't been balancing how it was from 2001 to 2013. But her output during this period was gold. And she is one of the few songwriters in existence who can say they got to work with Namie Amuro on multiple albums.

Michico. I salute you.

🎧 Listen on Spotify: Written by Michico